September 29, 2023 at 4:00:00 PM
Taimur Rehman ‘25
Those in charge of maintaining the Academy’s aesthetic have invested heavily in the beauty and comfort of the campus over the years. Our fields stretch for acres, carefully cultivated flowers and trees dot every inch of the campus, faucets provide us with unlimited clean water, and we run our ACs through the day and night. However, our actions come at a price—not just for ourselves but for our community and planet.
What does it mean to be sustainable? Is it a question of our intentions or our actions? Questions like these frequently pop up when our environmental impact is discussed, and they hold a lot of merit. We talk about sustainability all of the time: we recycle, our napkins go to pig bedding, and we have a Green Team.
But when it comes to the core of our footprint, the part that requires much more sacrifice, time, and money, are we trying to be sustainable?
When there’s a drought in town and students continue to take forty-five minute showers, leaving faucets running while they stand in the mirror, is that sustainable? When one of the local elementary schools, Mountainview, has a field of solar panels to power its buildings and our administration, with a budget magnitudes higher, continues to delay and put off investments into campus sustainability, is that sustainable action? After years of proposals and requests for solar panels by Director of Sustainability Will Willis and Green Team students, only recently has the idea been truly considered, with bids starting to come in earlier this year.
Even the plans for the new Science and Robotics Center could be improved. With the designs for a brand new building already in the works, I hope that the administration, along with the Board of Regents and those working on the building’s development, work on setting Mercersburg apart from other schools and satisfying the desires of our science teachers with the introduction of revolutionary design elements. These could range from a living roof, water recycling, solar power, extreme energy efficiency, and smart elements to achieving LEED Gold, which is the aptly named gold standard when it comes to sustainable architecture.
But it’s not just new construction projects that should be sustainably designed, our current buildings also deserve to be upgraded to be more efficient and modern. Additionally, discussion could occur on whether our current heating system consisting of a large and dated central heating plant is the most efficient option.
There’s a lot of work to be done throughout our campus to bring us to an elevated level of sustainability, but progressing toward this goal will benefit the students of the future, and ensure that Mercersburg continues to be a pioneering institution.
To our leaders, I ask that you help to educate and develop us into truly global citizens and allow us to see the benefits of sustainability all over campus. And to all of you students, I simply ask that we consider our impact before we act. You don’t have to change your life; just be considerate of your usage, because if we students continue to overuse our resources after sustainable development occurs, a big portion of the benefits of sustainable design, architecture, and infrastructure will be lost.